The emotional appeal of “progressive” politics is that it’s good for the poor.
Even many who do not identify as so-called “progressives” accept the idea that government redistribution of wealth is good for the poor – even necessary to achieve some kind of equality and fairness in economic policy.
But it’s just not true. In fact, the preponderance of evidence suggests exactly the opposite.
Want to test my theory?
Answer the following question: Which state in the U.S. has, by far, the highest poverty rate?
Hint: It’s the state most well-known for being the most “progressive.”
That’s right. It’s California, a state I lived in for 20 years of my life. During those 20 years, I saw California’s decline. Toward the end, I saw the state go to war with business, with entrepreneurship, with free enterprise and with liberty of all kinds. Government grew, businesses fled, the middle class left.
Today, no state has a more dramatic divide between the rich and the poor. And no state even compares with California’s poverty rate. There’s not even a close second.
When I first moved to California, in 1979, there were two competing parties – the Republican and Democrat. It hadn’t been that long since Ronald Reagan was governor. During my 20 years there, it wasn’t unusual for Republicans to hold statewide office. Today, of course, it’s nearly impossible to imagine a Republican being elected governor or U.S. senator. California is a one-party state.
So what has all that unbridled “progressivism” wrought on the state? For 22 years, it has had a higher percentage of poor people than any other state by several percentage points – often as high as 27%.
California is a very big state, with a very large population. It is diverse in topography and boasts great natural resources. It’s a terrific tourist destination with great beaches and a wonderful climate. While the population of California continues to grow, more and more people, like me, have left – and they’re not the poor. They tend to be successful people, those with small business interests, those who actually employ people.
One can cite a lot of statistics to show that “progressive” politics and governance is actually bad for the poor. It keeps them in poverty rather than giving them opportunities to work hard and prosper. But I can think of no better real-life example than Exhibit A – California.
Most people, again, even those who don’t necessarily identify as “progressives,” (a term I despise and always place in quotes, as you can see), believe what politicians of that bent do is redistribute wealth from the rich to the poor. But that’s not really true, at least in a way that helps the poor.
They don’t really take from the rich and give to the poor.
They seize from the rich and middle class and give to the government.
Some crumbs fall off government’s table and wind up temporarily in the hands of the poor, but not in a way that helps them lift themselves from poverty. Instead, “progressive” politics creates dependency on government and increases its power over the people.
This is as true in the wealthiest nation in the world as it is in the most backward and impoverished Third World banana republic.
The best place to be poor with a desire for upward mobility is in a place where the government does less for you. See, it’s counterintuitive.
For some reason, very few politicians – even those who oppose “progressive” ideology – make this point effectively.
Wealth does not cause poverty. It’s the cure, not the disease.
Unless, they’ve traveled the world, Americans don’t even understand what real poverty is.
If you gathered the poorest Americans together as a separate nation, they would create the ninth-largest economy in the world.
Yet, what “progressives” say they seek is “income equality.”
What they should be asked is what that specifically looks like in the real world. Can they point to any place in the world today or in the past that achieved it? Can they point to any place in the world that attempted to achieve it by pursuing so-called “progressive” or socialist policies that didn’t create a bigger poverty problem? How much money needs to be seized from the “rich” to eliminate poverty? Is there any tax rate that is too high? Is there any point at which taxation becomes counter-productive?
And the very best question never asked of “progressives” is this: Do you believe in constitutionally limited government, or do you believe in “unlimited government”?
Because, ultimately, “progressives” can only be successful at expanding the role of government in the lives of people, which not only translates into greater poverty, but less liberty.
But there’s one thing that makes it even worse. “Progressives” have become pathologically insane, stark crazy, certifiably mad.
There’s no hope for California any more – likewise with New York, Illinois and several states incapable and unwilling to follow the Constitution of the United States.
It’s too bad. It’s unfortunate. In fact, it breaks my heart.
Let’s see what happens Nov. 8. It will take a big red wave to save the nation. I’m praying for it. What else can we do?
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